Friday, December 20, 2013

Another Vein Extracted: Mineshaft #29

Mineshaft continues to roll on with another issue filled with unexpected treasures. This issue is comics and photography-heavy, with no poetry or short stories in the mix. I imagine editors Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieiri take what they can get as far as that goes, but it's interesting to see how they build those contributions into a coherent whole. As I noted in my presentation about Mineshaft at DICE in November, Rand and Palmieri really are in a position where they are bringing up esoteric, buried and hidden treasures into sharper view. That's especially true of artists who want an outlet for short stories or pieces that don't necessarily fit into the rest of what they do. For other artists, they contribute to support Mineshaft's mission and keep their own visibility intact.

For example, the issue starts with a typically amiable and sharp strip by David Collier about the end of the use of film in movie theaters. It's a warm and witty take that's very much a personal one, and he even skewers himself and his obsession with film in the final panel. That's followed by six single-panel political cartoons from Mary Fleener, who's been reprinting her work off and on in Mineshaft for quite some time. She included some of her best cartoons here, some of which have nothing to directly do with politics at all. The relative sobriety of those features is broken up by one of Aaron Lange's hilarious, profane and slickly-drawn comics that incorporates the same kind of flat, advertising art/romance comic art-related imagery that influenced folks like Dan Clowes.

Different styles of short comics keep coming at the reader, including an interesting digression from Aleksandar Zograf (on Eastern Europe's upcoming role in bridging the gap between Europe and Asia), Christoph Mueller (in an astounding strip that's sort of a cross between Chris Ware and Robert Crumb) and a sketchbook from the late Spain Rodriguez, which he sent to Mineshaft shortly before he died. This was extensively cleaned up by Pat Moriarty, and there are some truly remarkable drawings here, especially the crowd scenes which seemed partly sketched from life and partly as a satirical pastiche.  The rest of the issue is filled up with more of Crumb's dream diaries, which are both amusing and vaguely disturbing, as one would expect, as well as a photo essay on blues artists from the 1960s. These were taken during the folk explosion that dug up countless bluesmen, many of whom had had to take other jobs in the intervening years. The photos of legends like Son House are especially powerful, capturing, his elegance and wry sense of humor. That said, the spread is considerably less esoteric than the average Mineshaft photo feature, even if the photos themselves are artfully composed. The issue concludes, in a more typical Mineshaft fashion, with a Charles Bukowski poem illustrated by Moriarty and inked by Collier. That kind of collaboration and the platform that Mineshaft provides for it sums up the zine's mission and is also the reason why it receives so much support from the alt and underground comics communities.

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